"Years back, people used to have small farms in their backyards," said Kazuho Komoda, a Japanese, co-founder of Alesca Life Technologies Co Ltd, an agricultural technology startup in Beijing. "Now people live in the sky, and city center real estate prices are too expensive to be used for farming."
With no previous experience in agriculture, Komoda and his core team of former bankers and traders founded the urban soilless cultivation company in 2013, in the country's busiest city, aiming to grow safe, sustainable and accessible food with maximum efficiency, including use of specially designed containers, a product of Alesca.
"Traditional farms are farther and farther away from city centers. People use trucks and even airplanes to deliver food to city centers, causing food waste during transportation; and transportation itself is environmentally unfriendly."
Together with the internet of things to monitor every plant, soilless cultivation, a technology that Alesca has mastered, can facilitate the pleasurable culture of growing fruits, vegetables and herbs in urban homes.
"Firstly, we want to make food safer. The hard part is this: How to make our consumers believe that it is safe?" said Komoda. "The only answer is that the growing process must be seen by the consumers, which means, vegetables must be grown where people consume them."
Alesca Life tracks data on plants through a cloud-connected sensor with a growth-management app linked to the company's optimization platform.
"Our old customers say our products taste like the stuff they used to eat when they were young.
"Healthy food is something everyone is looking for. China is having a big transition in purchasing - consumable improvements. We need to catch this opportunity to penetrate the Chinese market," Komoda said. "And our targets now are the food and beverage industries."